Wed. Apr 21st, 2021

By LEANNE ITALIE, The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – With a predominantly new black editor and with ambitious promises to do better, a small corner of the Condé Nast universe is reducing racial and cultural injustice at one time.

Since July, the small staff at Epicureus, a resource site for home cooks, tastes 55 years of recipes from a variety of Condé Nast magazines looking for objectionable titles, ingredient lists and stories told through a white American lens. is taking.

“This came after Black Lives Matter raised a lot of consciousness among editors and staff,” said David Tamarkin, Epicureus’ white digital director. It came out of the conversation that we had about how we could do better, where. Are we failing and where are our predecessors failing? “

Called the Archive Repair Project, the work is also a hotbed of complaints and controversies at Condé Nast. Sonia Chopra, who is working as the new editor of Bon Appétit and Epicurious’s executive editor Don Davis, said this is just one attempt at the full plate of the initiative.

All in all, the 25-year-old site (with a staff of 10) is a massive 35,000 storehouse of dishes from Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Self, House & Garden and Epicureus. They continued to pull till 1965.

“The language we use to talk about food has certainly evolved a lot since the 1960s to the 1990s, and I think it’s our duty as journalists, people who Work in food media, to make sure that we are reflecting this is appropriate, ”said Chopra.

Epicureus and Bon Appetit have been at the center of accusations that harass others in the food world as well: abstract employees of color, structural racism, the elimination of racial and gender discrimination, and more. Some of those issues led many Bone Appetite employees to leave earlier this year, when editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned amid a 2004 Halloween “brownface” photo and allegations of racial discrimination.

While ConDay Nast studies pay equity, and have issued apologies and pledges to do such things as expand unconscious-bias education and plan for inclusion and diversity, the Archive Repair Project rolls on.

The bulk of Epicureus site traffic goes to collections, mostly in recipes but also in articles and other editorial work, Tamerkin and Chopra said.

“Being such an old site, we’re filled with a lot of ideas about American cooking that actually go through a white lens,” Tamarkin said. We know that American cooking is Mexican American cooking and Indian American cooking and Nigerian American cooking. This type of cooking happens every day in this country. “

One of the first issues was “repair”, he said, using the term “foreign”.

“I can’t think of any situation where that term would be appropriate, and as of now it’s all over the site,” Tamarkin said. “It’s painful for me and I’m sure there are others.”

Another term that needed to be removed was a lime reference that included a racial slur directed at black Africans, particularly in South Africa.

Other words, such as “authentic” and “ethnic” are also among the reparations.

The work, Chopra said, “is definitely something that I think all of the food media and media in general are thinking about, not the Condé Nast brand.”

Since July, when Tamarkin outlined the project on Epicureus, he and his staff set about 200 recipes and other tasks. Some repairs are more complicated than removing a word, such as the whole story about the “ethnic” corridor at the grocery store.

“We have published recipes with headnotes that fail to properly credit the inspirations for the dish, or degrade the dishes that belong to the dish. To make a recipe “ better ” we have prepared it quickly or by swapping ingredients that are considered more familiar to the American palate, or easier to find. We have considered (and in some cases labeled outright) ingredients and techniques ‘surprising’ or ‘weird’. And we have published the terminology that was widely accepted in food writing at the time, and now we recognize that there has always been racist, ”Tamkara wrote.

He said: “There will definitely be times when our edits won’t go too far; Some of our repairs will require repairs. “

For Bon Appétit, that’s exactly what happened when an outrage among readers prompted it to make several changes, including a headnote and a reference to Haiti on the Pumpkin Soup recipe by chef Marcus Samuelsson, a guest editor. The magazine referred to it as Soup Joumou, a beloved Haitian staple symbolizing the country’s bloody liberation from its French colonists.

This soup was not joumou, but was intended by Samuelson as a tribute. The magazine adapted an entry from one of his cookbooks, “The Rise: Black Cookers and the Soul of American Food”. Both Bon Appetit and Samuelsson, who are black, apologized after confirmation and cultural appropriation.

Most food media are faced with race and ethnicity, which can trace white dominance to the region’s highest echelons. For example, on the Epicureus Repair Project, only 31% of the people who identify and fix the archive are employees of color.

Chopra said comprehensive plans are in motion.

“We are committed to building teams that are inclusive and considerate, and that means always assessing and assuring our policies and procedures. Chopra said that while we are transitioning in 2021 with new leadership, we are examining them across the board, from keeping best practices to working collaboratively and overall on teams and platforms.

Meanwhile, Tamrykin and his crew are slowly pressing on with the repair of their collection at Epicureus, where “Asian” is no longer the name of a cold rice noodle salad, and a Wadauvan spice mix lost its mention of “exotic” Have given.

“A lot of these problems occurred, because there was a lack of thoughtfulness,” said Tamarkin, “so solutions need to be thoughtful now.”

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